All aircraft operators flying into or out of any European Union airport, are required to participate in the EU ETS from January 2012. Each Member State will be required to regulate airlines to which they have granted a valid operating licence.
In the United Kingdom, forecasts from the 2003 'Future of Air Transport White Paper' predicted that a quarter of the UK's total contribution to climate change could come from the aviation sector by 2030. Similar figures throughout Europe were the catalyst for European Council Directive 2008/101/EC of 19 November 2008, under which the aviation sector was brought into the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
All aircraft operators flying into or out of any European Union airport are required to participate in the EU ETS from January 2012. Each Member State will be required to regulate airlines to which they have granted a valid operating licence. Airlines licensed outside the European Union also will be regulated in the European Union. However, such regulation will be undertaken from the Member State from which the airline in question has undertaken most of its activities. In the United Kingdom, the aviation regulators for aviation emissions trading will be the Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Northern Ireland Environment Agency. These agencies already are the UK's regulators for the EU ETS and, therefore, giving them powers with regards to aviation seems the logical choice.
Until recently, it had been unclear as to the precise monitoring and reporting methodologies that were to be used for new aviation participants. However, a decision from the European Commission (Commission), released on 23 April 2009 (2009 Decision – 2009/339/EC), has provided monitoring and reporting guidelines for carbon emissions and tonne-kilometre data attributable to the aviation sector. This has been achieved through the amendment of the Commission’s previous Decision of 18 July 2007 (2007 Decision – 2007/589/EC) which established the initial and formative guidelines for EU ETS participants.
In relation to emission reporting and determination of tonne-kilometre data, the 2009 Decision provides specific guidelines for aviation activities. The key provisions require that, at least four months prior to the start of every annual reporting period, all aircraft operators are to submit a monitoring plan to the competent authority of the relevant Member State for approval. Some of the key information to be included in the monitoring plan will be as follows:
- Identification and contact details of the aircraft operator
- An initial list of aircraft types in its fleet operated at the time of submission of the monitoring plan, and the number of aircrafts per type, as well as the fuel types associated with each aircraft type
- A description of procedures and systems adopted to track the completeness of the list of aircrafts operating during the reporting year
- A description of data acquisition and handling and control activities, quality control and assurance activities, including maintenance and calibration of measurement equipment
- A description of the chosen methodology for determining tonne-kilometre data
- A description of the chosen methodology for monitoring and calculating fuel consumption for the aircrafts on the list
- The procedures for measurement of fuel uplifts, and emission factors used for each fuel type
- The procedure and controls on tonne-kilometre data monitoring and reporting
The 2009 Decision also imposes an obligation on all aircraft operators to submit an annual emission report, accompanied by a report on tonne-kilometre data to the competent authority of the relevant Member State. The key elements, inter alia, will cover:
- Data identifying the aircraft operator, together with the name and address of the verifier of the report
- Reference to and version number of the relevant approved monitoring plan
- Relevant changes in the operations and deviations from the approved monitoring plan during the reporting period
- The aircraft registration numbers and types of aircraft used during the reporting period
- Chosen method for calculation of mass for passengers and checked baggage, as well as for freight and mail
- Total number of passenger kilometers and tonne-kilometres for all flights during the reporting year
- Annual emissions and annual number of flights
These obligations are mandatory and civil penalties will be imposed where operators fail to comply. The United Kingdom has set substantial monetary penalties for non-compliance, as well as the option of impounding aircraft, where an airline does not have an acceptable plan in place within the UK regulators’ guidelines.